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Strict action in Kerala's illegal tree felling: Forest Minister

With the second Pinarayi Vijayan government caught in a bind over more than Rs 500 crore alleged felling of centuries-old rosewood and other trees in Kerala's Wayanad and other districts, State Forest Minister A.K. Saseendran on Monday said there would be multi pronged action against the violators.

Updated Jun 14, 2021 07:30 AM

Strict action in Kerala's illegal tree felling: Forest Minister

Saseendran said this while speaking to the media when he pointed out that Vigilance, Police and Forest have started the probe.

"We expect the preliminary report very soon and once it comes, there will be very strict action and it would not be just suspension, but very strong multi pronged action. All such trees that have been illegally felled will be confiscated and the government will take the custody of it," said Saseendran.

But what has raised eyebrows is the abject silence of leading environmentalist campaigner and CPI Rajya Sabha member Binoy Viswan and also CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran, often known for his 'big mouthed' statements against corruption and scams, whenever there is a Congress leader involved.

It was on Thursday that a timber dealer named Rojy Augustine, presently in the dock, after forest officials alleged that he had felled expensive rosewood trees in Wayanad, claimed that he had cut the trees as per the rules and to get the necessary papers, he had paid Rs 25 lakh as bribe to the forest officials.

Incidentally, the issue was raised in the Kerala Assembly by the Congress-led Opposition last week, while the same case surfaced in the Kerala High Court also.

What has now raised eyebrows was an order from the Revenue department for this had come last October and after lapses were found on February 2, 2021, the order was cancelled.

Incidentally the October order gave permission to cut trees except sandalwood trees in the land of those who have title deeds and though the then State Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran agreed that it was done after numerous requests came from various farmers organisations.

Moreover reports have now surfaced there were three meetings held between Chandrasekheran and his party colleague K. Raju -- the then Forest Minister on this issue.

Incidentally, reports have now surfaced that the now controversial order mentions that the Forest department officials should in no way create problems for those who fell trees based on this order and if done, strict action will be taken against such officials.

Meanwhile questions are now being raised if this was the reason why Kanam Rajendran became silent after the Forest portfolio was taken from the CPI and has been given to Saseendran who is from the NCP.

Also it was a sort of shock to hear when Chandrasekheran who had only one stint as a Minister, failed to make it in the second Vijayan cabinet and fingers are being pointed, it could have been for this controversial order, that he was left out.

The BJP has also stepped in when Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan on Thursday called on Union Forest and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekhar in the national capital and demanded a detailed probe by his ministry in connection to the massive felling of rosewood trees in Wayanad district and the next day he was at the spots in Wayanad where more than 200 years old rosewood trees were cut.

On Monday, various state BJP leaders have formed different teams and are visiting the various districts where trees were felled based on this controversial order.

And on Wednesday they are organising a protest against this huge scam at 16,000 places in the state observing Covid protocols.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by FreshersLIVE.Publisher : IANS-Media